Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Tap That, Um, Wire

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?

President Bush would have to answer yes.

Ben has provided a link-ful analysis of the illegal wiretap situation here. I won't reiterate what he said, so I'll just trust that you've gone there, read his comments, clicked on the links, etc. already.

If I recall correctly, wasn't it illegal surveillance that brought down Nixon?

Come to think of it, Bush and Nixon have a lot in common. Both had groundbreaking political strategists, both aimed their campaigns at those fearful of societal change, and both have a severe problem with paranoia. Bush's, though, is a bit more understandable - as Kurt Cobain once said, "It's not paranoia if they're really after you."

I have a habit of ascribing good intentions to people unless I am certain that the alternative is true. This may get me into trouble someday, but until it does, I'm going to keep doing it. So I assume that Bush is only doing what he thinks is necessary to protect Americans from terrorists. That doesn't make his actions good, just not evil.

Let's put everything we know together. Bush wants to protect Americans from terrorist attacks. Not only that, but Bush believes that it is his divine calling to do so. Bush has a habit of ignoring evidence that contradicts his theories while emphasizing evidence that fits his theories (see: Iraq and al-Qaeda). Finally, Bush values secrecy. The warrantless wiretaps are an outgrowth of these perspective. Any qualms about the execution of such powers would have been immediately dismissed - a President's gotta do what a President's gotta do, he might say. The Administration simply would not have done the necessary work to find the 72-hour provision Ben mentioned, and even if it had, Bush would not have liked revealing his plans to anyone besides the Congressional leaders and members of his inner circle.

Take the Prize Cases mentioned by the Daily Kos guy. If you read it as if you were looking for justification for Bush's assertion of unfettered power, you could find it. The narrow application of these cases is not apparent to the Bush circle, who would place the Civil War and the War on Terror in the same category if it fit their needs.

So Bush has a predilection for unintentional intellectual dishonesty. But here's the final conclusion we can draw from the wiretap debacle: Bush simply does not understand the reasons behind the checks on executive power. He doesn't understand why such checks would even be there. He trusts himself to limit the use of tactics like warrantless wiretaps and indefinite detentions to terrorism suspects. And so many Americans - the kind that say things like "if you're not a terrorist you have nothing to fear" - trust him too.

It is not this President that I don't trust. It is all Presidents. It is all people who hold a position of power. And were I to hold such a position, I would not trust myself. We cannot entrust anyone - even the most seemingly trustworthy people - with even the hint of the ability to exercise unchecked power. That is why we have the Constitution. That is why we have our laws regulating surveillance and detention. And because President Bush does not understand this simple fact, that is why he is not fit to serve as President.

One positive out of this, though: Sens. Specter and Leahy have promised to ask Samuel Alito about this issue when he comes up for confirmation in January. At least some of that confirmation battle might be about important stuff.

Monday, December 19, 2005


This is my 200th post. You can all applaud now.

Well, that was a good old-fashioned butt-whoopin'. Break out the brooms, 'Boys - you got swept. And thanks to some help from our friends in Pittsburgh and Chicago, we're now in the lead for the last wild-card spot. Wow.

Also, a stupid congressional resolution expressing support for Christmas - like it needs any - inspired some pretty awesome responses. I like this poem from John Dingell (D-MI), who I think is one of the original members of the House of Representatives:

"Twas the week before Christmas and all through the House,
no bills were passed 'bout which Fox News could grouse.
Tax cuts for the wealthy were passed with great cheer,
so vacations in St. Barts soon should be near.
Katrina kids were all nestled snug in motel beds,
while visions of school and home danced in their heads.
In Iraq, our soldiers need supplies and a plan,
and nuclear weapons are being built in Iran.
Gas prices shot up, consumer confidence fell.
Americans feared we were in a fast track to ... well.
Wait, we need a distraction, something divisive and wily,
a fabrication straight from the mouth of O'Reilly.
We will pretend Christmas is under attack,
hold a vote to save it, then pat ourselves on the back.
Silent Night, First Noel, Away in the Manger,
Wake up Congress, they're in no danger.
This time of year, we see Christmas everywhere we go,
From churches to homes to schools and, yes, even Costco.
What we have is an attempt to divide and destroy
when this is the season to unite us with joy.
At Christmastime, we're taught to unite.
We don't need a made-up reason to fight.
So on O'Reilly, on Hannity, on Coulter and those right-wing blogs.
You should sit back and relax, have a few egg nogs.
'Tis the holiday season; enjoy it a pinch.
With all our real problems, do we really need another Grinch?
So to my friends and my colleagues, I say with delight,
a Merry Christmas to all, and to Bill O'Reilly, happy holidays.
Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas."

What Meter? - The Poetry of John Dingell will be released in March.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

More Free-Floating Hostility

A few quickies about recent events, then I'll zip up and head out...

Patriot Act: wow. Wow. I completely did not expect the Senate to engage in a game of brinksmanship with the White House. I'm on the Senate's side on this one - we need to ensure that our civil liberties won't be violated while these powers are still in their relative infancy, else we're just inviting abuse.

Speaking of abuse, the President's wiretaps: This is just scary. Not in this specific instance, per se, since I'm relatively certain it was only used on people one could reasonably suspect of terrorism. It may have even helped foil a plot against the Brooklyn Bridge. The problem is this: how much do we trust this administration, and subsequent administrations, with the power to listen in on any international conversation they want without significant judicial and Congressional oversight? Shouldn't we define and limit the warrantless wiretap now before it starts being used as a political tool?

Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) gets the "dumb quote of the day" and a SUYM Award nomination for this quote (bottom of page): "I want my security first. I'll deal with all the details after that." Details like, say, a justice system. Lott does raise the interesting question: how much are we willing to sacrifice to remain secure? Discuss.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mixed Nuts

Four of the many reasons Fark.com is an awesome site:

Apparently, my future is going to be determined by some wacko in Edmonton. Free speech laws north of the border aren't quite up to the American standard, so "willfully promoting hatred" is a crime in Canada. The punishment: six-to-ten years as president of Iran.

AP reports that some New Yorker has a nice quaint statue of Santa outside their mansion ought to quell fears by certain psychopaths that Christmas is under attack. Sure, he's blood-splattered and holding a severed head, but don't you just love the Christmas spirit?

You know what I want for lunch? $240 flavored paper.

And let's hear it for Florida woman Liz Book, who is seeking to strike a blow for women everywhere who want to go topless. She gives us our Quote of the Month: "I'm fighting to decriminalize our breasts because no man, city or state should see our breasts as a means of revenue." Personally, I'm all for breast decriminalization.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Most Infamous Of The Sodomites

I apologize for throwing up so many posts on the immigration issue in such a short amount of time. It's just one of those things that gets me really annoyed.

I did a little web research today, and I discovered that Tom Tancredo, the most infamous of the sodomites, is the grandson of an Italian immigrant, as his own biography proudly points out. I also gleaned the following quote from the Wikipedia article on him:

"America is wrestling with an identity crisis. Part of it is a result of what I call the 'cult of multiculturalism.' The idea that there is nothing—nothing—of value in Western civilization, that we have nothing to offer the world, that we have nothing to offer as a viable society, that everything we have is bad and ugly.... If we are truly in a clash of civilizations... which I happen to believe, then it is important for us to understand who we are. What does it mean to be part of Western civilization? Are there inherent values that are worth anyone's allegiance?"

In 1892, poet Thomas Bailey Aldrich had this to say about immigrants, including Tancredo's grandfather:

"In street and alley what strange tongues are these
Accents of menace alien to our air
Voices that once the Tower of Babel knew!
O Liberty, white Goddess! Is it well
To leave the gates unguarded?"

Aldrich wasn't alone, and neither is Tancredo. I honestly can't understand how someone whose grandfather suffered the attacks wrought by Aldrich and his ilk can turn around and lob the same invective at today's immigrants. Tancredo even goes so far as to suggest that legal immigration be limited to a mere 30,000 per year!

I understand the fears of people like Tancredo and CNN anchor Lou Dobbs that an influx of legal immigrants will create labor competition that will drive wages down. However, a lot of American companies already hire illegal immigrants for the sole reason that with illegal employees, they can break labor laws with impunity (since the workers would not raise a fuss for fear of being deported). Giving all these employees legal status would force companies to obey labor laws, which removes the incentive to hire them over other employees. This means that Americans and immigrants alike can now fill the jobs that were once solely the domain of the illegal immigrant. May the most effective laborers get the job, whether they're born in Greensboro or Guadalajara. And an effective minimum wage (not the joke we currently have) will fix the falling wage problem. I might further remind the American laborer that his/her facility with the English language will serve as an asset in a labor market where there is no inherent advantage to hiring immigrants.

Besides, immigrants have just as much of a right to make a life for themselves as native-born Americans. We should make it the objective of our society to make that possible for both groups of people.

I leave you with a thought: the author Oscar Handlin once wrote, "Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history." America has always been strongest when it has been willing to accept contributions from both new and old sources. We haven't always lived up to that. It's about time we do so.

More Cup Fun

It's reassuring to know that we're not the only ones complaining about our World Cup draw. The Italians, always master complainers, have hatched a conspiracy theory that would make Chris Carter proud.

As for the U.S., we can only blame Tom Tancredo, the most infamous of the sodomites.

Hugs With Nuclear Arms

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse in the Middle East, Benjamin Netanyahu has to go and open his big mouth. He commented that Israel should pre-emptively strike Iran if they insist on continuing with their suspected nuclear weapons program.

In fairness, it's tough to blame Netanyahu. If a leader of a country says that your country should be wiped off the map (or at least picked up and moved), and there's reason to believe that that country has the means by which to do so, you can be excused for being a little defensive. Still, the Israelis need to be a little more disciplined in their public discussions. Netanyahu, forgetting the simple rule "never get into a member-measuring contest with a dick," took Ahmadinejad's bait. Ahmadinejad has to know that he couldn't actually attack Israel even if he had the means since his country would be converted into an atomic parking lot should he try, and he's not the kind of crazed maniac that would actually accept that outcome. As such, he's playing the bully, trying to provoke Israel into making a mistake that would turn world opinion even more against them. The correct move for Israel is to lay low and let Ahmadinejad make a fool out of himself.

With respect to nukes, at least Iran is letting the US get a piece of the action if we want it. One of Iran's political analysts says that the Iranian government is making the offer because they know we won't accept. Personally, I think we should, just to screw with them. Imagine the confusion in Tehran when we accept...

(Also, U.S. money is like a drug. If we get them addicted, we can convince them to lose some of the more unsavory aspects of their regime. "Sure, you can support anti-Israel groups, but we can take our investment somewhere else." "Oh... um... well, in that case..." Machiavellian, yes, but effective.)

Tom Tancredo, the most infamous of the sodomites, must be mentioned here. That is all.

Monday, December 12, 2005


A week ago I wrote a column regarding my views on sodomy (and by sodomy I mean anti-immigration movements... read the column if you're confused). Leah raised a comment on the Sensenbrenner bill that is coming to a House vote this week. She correctly notes that the bill is only concerned with border security and contains no real immigration reform. The Post wrote an article about the bill today.

Two points to make here:

1) I got in a fight with Sensenbrenner's son in third grade. Sadly, it had nothing to do with immigration.

2) In the article, Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth scoffs at any attempt to actually solve the immigration problem, saying that "this is an invasion to be stopped." Quite frankly, the biggest "invasion" his Scottsdale/Tempe district has to worry about involves retirees. The most generous estimates of illegal immigration put the number of illegal immigrants at roughly 300,000 a year - hardly an invasion of epic scale. I think I've heard that "invasion" rhetoric before... hmmm, where was it... oh, yes, I think the Klan used it... and some neo-Nazi groups here and there... maybe some of those anti-Irish or anti-Chinese groups back in the early 20th century... that's some good company you've made for yourself, buddy.

Read this.

I'll add this: his position is not only ridiculed by RNC Chair Ken Mehlman but by Mesa's Jeff Flake, who has a habit of making Barry Goldwater look like Karl Marx.

Also: what the hell does Sensenbrenner have to worry about? Are there a lot of illegal Canadian immigrants crossing Lake Superior into Wisconsin these days? And Tom Tancredo, the most infamous of the sodomites, is from Colorado. That's nowhere near a border. And it's not like illegal immigrants are moving into Colorado 6th (median income: $73,393, and a whopping 5.8% Latino) at a breakneck pace.

Friday, December 09, 2005

World Cup Predictions Nobody Asked For

Indulge me here - I just got done watching the World Cup draw, and I feel like commenting on the groups, who gets to the second round, who wins the whole enchilada, and how screwed the U.S. really is.

Group A: Germany, Ecuador, Poland, Costa Rica
The home team gets a relatively easy draw. Germany should make it, along with a sneaky-good Costa Rica squad.

Group B: England, Paraguay, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago
England should have no problems with this group, as long as Sven Goran-Eriksson doesn't forget which country he's coaching. Paraguay will probably also make it.

Group C: Argentina, Ivory Coast, Netherlands, Serbia and Montenegro
Wow. Talk about a Group of Death. You can't bet against Netherlands or Argentina, but the Ivoirians could sneak up on an unsuspecting side. Either way, this draw is DFL bait for poor Serbia.

Group D: Mexico, Angola, Portugal, Iran
Mexico gets the easiest draw ever. Portugal's coach won the Cup with Brazil last year, and I think they'll get past the "old-colony-exacting-revenge" trap that cost France in '02.

Group E: Italy, Ghana, Czech Republic, United States of America
If C is the "Group of Death," Group E is the "Group of Barely Clinging to Life," containing teams that were seeded 8th, 9th, and 11th overall. The US isn't sneaking up on anyone after their '02 performance, but Italy has a habit of laying eggs in international competitions, so I'll go with the Yanks and the Czechs.

Group F: Brazil, Australia, Croatia, Japan
Two things you never bet against in international soccer: Brazil, and Australia coach Guus Hiddink.

Group G: France, Togo, Switzerland, South Korea
France and Switzerland survived European qualifying's Group of Death together. I don't see Togo putting up the fight Israel and Ireland did, and South Korea probably can't keep their '02 form away from home.

Group H: Spain, Tunisia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia
Can we eliminate all these teams, give C and E an extra spot each, and call it done? Ukraine looked good in qualifying, and Saudi Arabia, coming off a DFL in '02, could do the same thing the US did that year and surprise someone. Either way, you know the group sucks when someone is picking Saudi Arabia to get out of it.

Finals: There's no one on Brazil's side of the bracket that could even compete with them. I think England's got the best team on the other side. So Brazil and England meet in the finals, with Brazil - of course - prevailing.

Mississippi Burning

Radley Balko of The Agitator posts on a somewhat disturbing case of a man sentenced to death because he shot a policeman who broke down his door in the middle of the night on a search warrant that didn't apply to that house. The shooter claims that the policeman never identified himself and never knocked, meaning that it's absolutely reasonable that the shooter was fearing for his life (and the life of his young daughter). There's still some holes in Balko's reasoning - for example, why did the shooter shoot first and ask questions later, and why would a cop burst through a doorway unarmed without identifying himself - but I'm inclined to agree with him for the most part. If he's right, it's a travesty that someone is about to die because a police officer was stupid. (The original post on the case is a little ways down.)

Interestingly, at the bottom of the Dec. 7 posts, Balko outlines a whole litany of "no-knock raids" in Baltimore. This careless activity by police is apparently more prevalent than we would like to believe. Furthermore, I don't see what is gained by not knocking on the door first. If it means you have to look a little harder to find the drugs, fine.

Yet another life claimed by the war on drugs. How much longer are we going to keep up this silliness?

Banditos Theorem Proof #2616

A student was suspended from a Kansas City, KS public school. For what offense, you might ask? Fighting? Nope. Disrespecting a teacher? No. Speaking Spanish in the halls? Yup.

I must admit, between cracking down on bilingualism and endorsing unintelligent design, Kansas public schools are trying everything in their power to not give kids an education.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Bitch Is Back

So Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is starting to realize that he's not going to be able to get rid of Israel completely. Now he just wants it moved. He says the Holocaust probably didn't happen (instead, I suppose those six million Jews were kidnapped by aliens), but if it did, Europe should make amends by giving up parts of Germany and Austria to the Jewish state.

(Actually, I kinda like this idea. If every country that ever committed a mass murder of Jews had to give up land to make amends, the Jewish state would encompass half of the Middle East, a good chunk of North Africa, a few enclaves in Argentina and Brazil, and most of Europe. Be careful what you wish for, Mahmoud...)

It's too bad I don't know Ahmadinejad's address. He wouldn't just get a "Shut Up, You Moron" award - he'd get a friggin' statue. And I'd get a death sentence from the Ayatollah... which is my dream come true.

In other news:

Congress has reacted to budget deficits the only way it knows how: by cutting taxes. Something should have been done with taxes, but I don't think "cutting" was quite what I had in mind. Someone should tell the geniuses who came up with this idea that you can't trim a deficit by cutting revenue. (Also, I don't see why people in the middle class and working class would be opposed to tax hikes on the rich. Do they honestly think that the extreme well-being of the super-rich is important to their well-being? Give me a break.)

Say what you will about the quixotic, often dictatorial Hugo Chavez. At least he does what he can to help the poor - even if they're our poor. Kudos to Rep. Jose Serrano for brokering the deal. Hey, if you can't get help from your own government, ask somebody else's. Our Congress is too busy cutting taxes.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Rant Y'all Don't Care About

Pardon me while I rant about soccer for a while.

Why in the ever-loving hell were the U.S. and the Netherlands left out of the top seeds for the World Cup groups in favor of Spain and Mexico? Is there some sort of Spanish-speaking Mafia out there controlling the draw? The other seeds I can understand. Brazil, Argentina, England... yeah. Italy, France, Germany... okay, I'll deal with it, even though the French aren't that good. Mexico? Might I remind you that the U.S. finished ahead of Mexico in qualifying? And won the Gold Cup? And beat the Mexicans in the second round of the '02 Cup? And Spain might be good, but can they possibly be better than a Dutch team that's ranked, like, #3 in the world? And did everyone completely forget about the Czechs, who were #1 up until recently?

But that doesn't bother me as much as the group that the U.S. is lumped into for the draw. You'd think we'd be in with all the second-tier teams, seeing as how we're ranked #8 in the world. No, we're in with Saudi Arabia and Iran. Jesus Archibald Christ. Yes, I know Iran beat us in the '98 Cup. I don't care. We're the only contender in our pot. Which means we get the obnoxiously difficult group that will require us beating Brazil or something to get to the second round. We beat Portugal in '02 so it's possible... but still.

Okay, that's done now.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Shut Up, You Moron Award Open Thread

I wanted to turn the "Shut Up, You Moron" Award into a monthly award given to the person whose actions or words are either a) utterly inexplicable or b) serve to perpetuate a commonly held false perception. Since the latter is Scott McClellan's job, I won't give him an award. Also, the obvious characters - Bush, Cheney - are out, since you're bound to screw up once a month if you get that much media exposure.

I want your comments on who should receive the award. Nominees will be posted here.

- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), for claiming that cable TV violence is influencing jihadists

- Tim Wildmon and William Donohue, for their boycotts against retailers who don't advertise holiday sales with "Merry Christmas"

Bowl Predictions Nobody Asked For

Since my beloved Redskins are all but out of a playoff spot, I'll turn my attention to the college football arena. Lots of bowl games coming up - 28 of them to be exact. Since I know next to nothing about more than half of these teams, these predictions will probably prove to be crap. Also, I have a topical post after this one, so read it too. And comment. Or I'll send Chuck Amato after you.

New Orleans (really, the Lafayette Bowl): Southern Miss vs. Arkansas State.
Arkansas State? Who invited them? I'm sorry, but Vandy could go 6-5 in the Sun Belt. Southern Miss should have no problems.

GMAC: UTEP vs. Toledo.
Toledo's Bruce Gradkowski is one heck of a quarterback. So is UTEP's Jordan Palmer (brother of Carson). But Toledo actually has a running game.

Las Vegas: BYU vs. California.
Cal's been disappointing this year, and BYU has surprised everyone in the Mountain West. Also, the BYU players will be less likely to be distracted by the gambling. Look for the Cougs to pull the upset.

Poinsettia: Colorado State vs. Navy
Poinsettia Bowl? Did you run out of plants? What's next, the Geranium Bowl? Umm... Navy. Sounds good to me.

Fort Worth: Kansas vs. Houston
Since I can't pick them both to lose, I'll pick Kansas.

Hawaii: Nevada vs. Central Florida
Nevada surprised Fresno State, but UCF surprised the hell out of everybody this year.

Motor City: Memphis vs. Akron
Can we please put a moratorium on bowls held in cold-weather parts of the country? I'll take Memphis, just because the thought of Akron winning anything makes me laugh uncontrollably.

Champs Sports: Clemson vs. Colorado
Clemson beat Florida State. Colorado lost by 67 to Texas. Any questions?

Insight: Arizona State vs. Rutgers
Poor Rutgers. You earn your first bowl bid in 20-odd years, and what do you get? A game in Arizona against an Arizona State team that led both USC and LSU in the fourth quarter. Whee.

MPC Computers: Boise State vs. Boston College
Boise State always wins the Blue Field Bowl. That's because it's their home field.

Alamo: Michigan vs. Nebraska
Michigan has been better down the stretch than the 'Huskers, and will win the Sounds Like It Should Be A National Championship Bowl.

Emerald: Georgia Tech vs. Utah
My Utes have been horribly inconsistent this year. Fortunately, Georgia Tech is always inconsistent. I'll pick Utah - they don't have to fly as far.

Holiday: Oregon vs. Oklahoma
No one seemed to notice Oregon, but they very quietly made their way into a #5 ranking at the end of the regular season.

Music City: Minnesota vs. Virginia
Remember when Laurence Maroney was a Heisman contender? Remember why? Neither do I. Virginia should win.

Sun: Northwestern vs. UCLA
Two teams with a lot of offense and no defense. Northwestern can keep up with UCLA's high-powered attack so I'll pick them. But really, the only safe bet here is the "over" bet.

Independence: South Carolina vs. Missouri
The Ol' Ball Coach has done a heck of a job in Columbia this year, so I can't bet against SC here.

Peach: Miami vs. LSU
LSU has had to deal with enough Hurricanes this year.

Meineke: South Florida vs. NC State
These teams are not gonna pay a lot for their mufflers. This game would be a tossup in any other bowl - but since it's being played in Charlotte, NCSU gets the nod.

Liberty: Tulsa vs. Fresno State
Easy pickings for a Fresno State team that ran with USC... but that's what they said about Nevada, too.

Houston: TCU vs. Iowa State
Hmm... a game in Texas with a TCU team that was a second-week loss to SMU away from really screwing up the BCS picture? Sorry, 'Clones.

Cotton: Texas Tech vs. Alabama
I don't care how good 'Bama's defense is. Their offense will still have to put up 28 to beat Texas Tech, and I don't think it's happening.

Outback: Iowa vs. Florida
It really isn't fair to let Florida play in Tampa.

Gator: Louisville vs. Virginia Tech
This oughta be a fun game, but I think VT can rebound from that awful Florida State debacle and pull it out.

Capital One: Wisconsin vs. Auburn
Auburn has been playing really well this year. They should be able to handle Wisconsin.

Fiesta: Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
I haven't been able to figure out Ohio State this year. There must be something there that makes the BCS people think they'd be better than LSU or Oregon, but until I see it, I'm going with Notre Dame.

Sugar: West Virginia vs. Georgia
Bad luck for the Mountaineers. This would have been a close game at a neutral site such as New Orleans, but since the game got moved to Atlanta, Georgia has a definite advantage. WVU should make it interesting, though.

Orange: Florida State vs. Penn State
Two coaching institutions face off in a big bowl game. Too bad Penn State is the only team that deserves to be there.

Rose: Southern California vs. Texas
We've been waiting for this game since September. USC has stumbled more than Texas this season, but the Trojans have the advantage of playing a home game. The 'Horns struggled in their last hostile environment (College Station). Still, I think Texas has the offensive firepower to keep up with USC - as long as Vince Young brings his 'A' game.

Update: Some congresspeople have way too much time on their hands. A congressional investigation of college football? Is Congress going to pass a resolution declaring Auburn the national champion from last year? I don't get it...

Sodomites Not Welcome

I haven't blogged in a while, so I thought I'd come back with a bang, as it were, and take on a controversial topic: sodomy.

There's way too much sodomy going on in America right now, from the Arizona-Mexico border to my home town of Herndon, VA. People are sodomizing illegal immigrants with no fear of retribution. And senators such as Jon Kyl and John Cornyn are committing sodomy on the Senate floor.

Hold on a second. Now that I've written that paragraph, I realize that the goyish definition of "sodomy" has become generally accepted in the American lexicon. As a result, I probably have a lot of very confused readers who are convinced that I'm talking about sexual habits. So let's get our minds out of the gutter, and allow me to explain (and here I'm paraphrasing from a sermon my rabbi gave a couple of weeks ago)...

Remember the Biblical story of the angels who visit Lot in Sodom, and get met by a less-than-welcoming party while in Lot's tent. The city of Sdom (Sodom, to those of us reading the English version), as it turns out, was one of the richest places around. They wanted to keep their riches to themselves, so they weren't very welcoming to any strangers. They would relieve any rich visitors of their wealth, and they would harass and abuse any poor stranger who looked to share in the wealth of the city. Like a kindergartener who refuses to let his classmates play with his Legos, the people of Sodom were selfish and inhospitable.

So how is this "sodomy" being practiced today? Picture us as the rich city of the plain, and the poor stranger as the Spanish-speaking guy from the south side of the Rio Grande. Capiche?

(And so we come across the real point of this post: illegal immigration.)

We've all whined about how illegal immigrants are lawbreakers, or how they're taking our jobs, or whatever. The truth is that they are coming here to make a better life for themselves, just like our ancestors who immigrated here. America is a wealthier place than their homes, and they want to share in our wealth. Security concerns are important, but there are ways to ensure that everyone who wants to come here to make a life for themselves can do so.

But I see a more disturbing trend materializing. I see people who want to deny health care to illegal immigrants, who want to forbid governments from offering Spanish-language services, who want to keep Latino day laborers from getting work. I see people camped out along the imaginary line in the Sonoran Desert ready to shoot anyone who comes across. I see others protesting a community center for day laborers in Herndon. I see people in North Carolina who want to deny a college education to children who were educated in our school system simply because their parents came here illegally. And there are people, like Kyl and Cornyn, who want to automatically deport anyone who has come here illegally.

These are people who react with too much fear and not enough compassion. They blame the impoverished for their situation. They are the ones harassing the stranger, telling them not to come back, that our wealth is not available to them, that they are not welcome here. They are the sodomites.

Illegal immigration is a problem, but those who are serious about policy realize that the immigration system itself needs to be reformed. They advocate guest-worker programs (like President Bush), opportunities for amnesty (like Kyl's Arizona colleague John McCain), or making the immigration system as easy as filling out a piece of paper and crossing a border (me).

Personally, I think that most people would rather immigrate legally than illegally - and those who propose the preceding programs understand that. Currently, the process of getting a visa and becoming documented represents an insurmountable obstacle to those would-be immigrants of little means who wish to come here and work. Apparently, you can't get one without a specific job offer. Guest-worker programs create an annoying bureaucracy and don't make the guest workers feel welcome. McCain and Kennedy's general amnesty still creates a monetary barrier.

I, personally, feel that simple is best, so here is my proposal. a) For the next year, everyone who immigrated here, whether illegally or not, receives a green card (after a short background check to make sure they're not a terrorist). No questions asked. b) Everyone who wishes to cross the border to work must be able to do so for free, with no proof of a job offer, again with no questions asked (with appropriate terrorism screening). The visa will last for six months, and will become permanent if the immigrant finds a job or becomes a student in that time. The immigrant may reapply after the initial six months.

My plan has several advantages. First, it's ridiculously simple. It eliminates several unnecessary layers of immigration law and bureaucracy that don't really need to be there, saving us time and money. Also, it makes the process easy to follow for immigrants and INS officials alike. Second, it removes the incentive for honest people to immigrate illegally. Since those who are looking for work are welcome to come across the border for free and find it, we can now be relatively certain that those who try to sneak across the border are probably doing so for reasons that are less than above-board. Border patrollers would not have to deal with illegals who are simply looking for work and could concentrate on stopping smugglers and terrorists. Third, it would make immigrants feel more welcome in America. These immigrants would then be more likely to participate fully in American society. Fourth, it would give immigrants leverage against their employers when they are being exploited.

Also, we should all continue to refer to the espousal of anti-immigrant policies as "sodomy." It's easier to say than "xenophobia" and it's a lot more Biblically appropriate than that other definition.

There. That oughta ruffle some feathers.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Budget Bill, And Things That Just Annoy Me In General

The House passed spending cuts that will cut money from such unnecessary programs as food stamps, student loans, child support, and Medicaid. It won't cut anything from Medicare. This is perfectly logical, since it's far more important to take care of rich old people than poor kids. And nothing is more important than making sure the rich don't have to pay more taxes. Yes, there are kids that need their insulin and want to go to college, but Mr. Throckmorton has to afford that fourth house somehow.

Hell, if I had realized that drilling in ANWR would produce an extra $2.5 billion (according to the Senate provision) for programs aimed at poverty reduction... fuck the caribou. Honestly, why was there more of an outrage over ANWR drilling than over cuts in Medicaid? Where's the logic in that? About the only person even mildly steamed about the budget cuts was my rabbi, and he's not even eligible to vote yet (I don't think).

I'm feeling pretty dumb right now for writing a letter about torture and not about the budget bill. Granted, the Senate bill was not as bad as the House bill - far milder cuts in Medicaid, no cuts in food stamps, more cuts in farm subsidies - but it's still obnoxious. (And granted, my representative is one of the more liberal reps out there and voted against the bill. Writing a letter to him would be sort of like preaching to the choir.)

No one wants their taxes raised, but if we learned anything from the past four years in VA, it's that people will be okay with tax hikes if their money's going to a good cause. Medicaid, student loans, and food stamps are all undoubtedly good causes. And most Americans realize that we are in the middle of a war (whether we should be or not) and that wars generally mean sacrifice on our part. The House and Senate want the bulk of the sacrifice to be laid upon the poorest Americans - who, incidentally, send disproportionately more troops to war than their richer fellow citizens.

So that's my rant on that. There's still a conference committee to go through, another round of voting, and a signature before it becomes law.

A few words on an unrelated and far less important topic - the judiciary:

- Will somebody please talk about Alito's views on the war on terror? It's all abortion, all the time with this guy. I'm suffering from Roe burnout. Actually, I've been suffering from that for a few years now, come to think of it.

- The next person to say the following untrue phrases in a serious manner gets a "Shut Up, Moron" award from me:

"The Supreme Court banned school prayer."

"Liberals want to sanction flag burning."

"Liberals want to take God out of (insert institution here)."

"The ACLU is anti-religion."

Hmmm, let's look at some of the ACLU's recent cases on religion and government, shall we?

September 20, 2005: ACLU of New Jersey joins lawsuit supporting second-grader’s right to sing “Awesome God” at a talent show.

August 4, 2005: ACLU helps free a New Mexico street preacher from prison.

November 20, 2004: ACLU of Nevada supports free speech rights of evangelists to preach on the sidewalks of the strip in Las Vegas.

November 9, 2004: ACLU of Nevada defends a Mormon student who was suspended after wearing a T-shirt with a religious message to school.

Yup, seems anti-religious to me. They're definitely trying to keep religion out of public life with cases like these. Also, George Washington was anti-independence. And Frederick Douglass was pro-slavery. I encourage my readers to keep me up to date on who deserves these awards, because I will mail them.

Wow, I was in a sarcastic mood today. I'll shut up now.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Your Daily Dose Of Coolness

This is the coolest thing ever.

Update: Torture and Detention

The Senate reached a compromise toning down the language of the Graham "Screw Human Rights" Amendment. Now, a detainee who has been tried before a military tribunal receives an automatic appeal to the D.C. Circuit if their sentence is greater than ten years, and detainees can petition the D.C. Circuit for an appeal if their sentence is less. The new language, authored by Carl Levin (D-MI), allows the D.C. Circuit to rule on the constitutionality of the process case-by-case should an appeal be brought. It's a significant improvement over the original GSHRA, but it still robs detainees of many of the rights that form the basis of our legal system. There is still no recourse for those detained who don't even get a military tribunal. And there is no transparency at all for the military tribunal process. (This baffles me - why can we give Nazis a public military trial with access to lawyers, the right to defend themselves, etc. and not do the same for al Qaeda?)

Graham and Levin are asking the Senate conferees to link the language of this bill to the McCain Amendment. That may sound trivial, but realize that the GSHRA is something that the Administration dearly wants - Senators want Bush to realize that if he wants to strip people of their access to courts, he'll have to deal with not torturing them.

You know, five years ago I never would have dreamed of typing that last sentence.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Boredom + A Quarter = Hilarity

Michael Newdow is back on the beat, continuing his glorious - ahem - crusade against government-sanctioned displays of religion. This time, he's after the "In God We Trust" motto on our money.

Newdow's got a point. The currency's reference to God establishes a religious belief and is therefore unconstitutional. But seriously, dude, do you have anything better to do with your time?

And in the "tasty irony" department, NASCAR racer Kurt Busch was suspended from his racing team for driving recklessly around Phoenix. I'm not sure how he stood out from the rest of Phoenix's creative drivers, but I'm also not sure why his racing team was surprised when the guy they're paying to drive psychotically drives psychotically.

To sum: driving like a NASCAR driver in Phoenix gets you arrested. Driving like a NASCAR driver in downtown Raleigh gets you re-elected.

What A Beautiful View... That'll Be $1,000

Since New Hampshire has prevented itself from implementing a sales or income tax, they have decided to tax something they have plenty of: scenery. They could do that in North Carolina, but I'd only be paying about six cents.

Granted, this is supposed to be part of the property value, but... honestly. Why raise the property value $200,000 in one fell swoop based on a view? And what would happen if they tried this in, say, Montana?

I suppose this is somewhat of a setback for the Free Staters up there...

Also, the award for Losing A Game In The Most Absolutely Innovative And Heartbreaking Way goes to the Washington Redskins... I still can't tell whether Mike Alstott actually got the ball across the goal line on that two-point conversion.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Politician Admits Mistake

Former NC Senator John Edwards admits he was wrong in voting for the Iraq war in 2002. Also, my head just exploded.

In other news, Pat Robertson is an idiot. Not that this is news, per se. It's just funny.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Here is the e-mail letter I sent to Senator Burr regarding the Graham Screw Human Rights Amendment (link to Ben's blog). I would have sent it snail-mail, but there was no chance in hell it was going to get there by Monday. I sent a shorter version to Senator Dole, since her e-mail interface only accepts shorter letters. Chance that either will read it: scant. But it's worth a shot.

Senator Burr,

First, allow me to commend you for your support for the McCain Amendment. Your vote in this matter clearly demonstrates your concern for human rights and your desire to ensure that we conduct the war on terror in the most effective way possible. By voting for this amendment, you have made a statement that you do not wish us to sink to the moral levels of our opposition in the conduct of this global struggle.

I am dismayed, however, by your support for the Graham Amendment, which strips the federal courts of the jurisdiction to hear statutory habeas corpus pleas. This ensures that those detained in foreign countries and brought to Guantanamo Bay will not be able to challenge their detention in the courts.

I appreciate the importance of the aforementioned detentions in the conduct of the war on terror. However, suspending the habeas rights of these detainees weakens our ability to successfully struggle against terrorism by undermining our claim to moral superiority and by providing terrorist recruiters with another tool to stoke the fires of anti-American hatred within young Muslim men.

The right to challenge one's imprisonment is just as fundamental a human right as the right to be treated humanely while in detention, a right for which you expressed support when you voted for the McCain Amendment. There can be no claim of perfection here; therefore, though most of the detainees are terrorists, many of those imprisoned at Guantanamo were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. In order to ensure that we are detaining the right people, all those detained must be allowed to challenge their detention. To deny detainees these rights is tantamount to saying that the wrongful imprisonment of innocent people is acceptable.

Allowing detainees to challenge their status in court will not only ensure that we do not detain anyone wrongly, but will also ensure that our interrogations are only conducted upon those with actual information. Imagine the waste - not to mention the embarrassment - of interrogating someone who has never been a terrorist about supposed terrorist activities! If we institute a process by which the wrongfully detained are freed and the rightfully detained are held, we avoid much of this waste of resources. Furthermore, any information that comes out during the challenge can be utilized by intelligence agencies as well.

Finally, the specter of indefinite wrongful imprisonment looms large over the heads of those who may be subjected to it. Terrorist recruiters will almost certainly distort any unjust detentions into evidence that America is attacking the Muslim world and thus should be destroyed. In order to win the war on terror, we must not only destroy existing terrorists but prevent new terrorists from being recruited. Allowing detainees access to the courts will reassure those who fear that they may be next that justice will be served, and that if they avoid participating in terrorism, they will not be hurt.

It is apparent that the Graham Amendment undermines our claims to moral superiority and harms our ability to conduct the war on terror in an efficient and effective manner. I have heard that your colleague from New Mexico, Jeff Bingaman, is planning to offer an amendment on Monday that would reverse, at least in part, the Graham Amendment. For the sake of our consciences and for the sake of our struggle against violent extremists, I urge you to support Mr. Bingaman's efforts.

Thank you for your time,
Jeff Woodhead

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Election Day Retrospective

Yesterday was Election Day. Unless you lived in Virginia or New Jersey, you probably didn't notice. (And boy, did Virginians notice.) So here's the rundown:

Congratulations to Tim "Candy" Kaine, who continues Virginia's long march to purpleness with a victory in the race for governor. He succeeds the wildly successful and wildly popular Mark Warner, who managed to raise his profile for the '08 Democratic presidential nomination in the process.

In the process, blue America's border moved from the Potomac to the Occoquan. Congratulations to Chuck Caputo especially, who defeated gay-basher and immigrant-basher extraordinaire Chris Craddock in his southwestern Fairfax County race. (Craddock ousted incumbent Gary Reese in the primary, in part by linking him to an decade-old endorsement from a gay-friendly publication and by questioning his sexuality. Reese, a moderate Republican who often sided with Warner, likely would have held the seat. This reinforces the notion that primary voters are often fools.)

The Post describes the election as a "backlash" against Republicans in the suburbs. I doubt that. The fact that Kaine (the lieutenant governor) came so close to losing is testimony to how Republican Virginia still is - he was barely able to ride Warner's 80% approval rating (!) to victory. However, a lot of Republicans thought Warner's ambitious budget-balancing tax hike would play out badly, but Virginians realize that the state budget was in a hole after Gilmore, and Warner's tax plan helped the state as a whole. My point: people aren't as anti-tax as we might want to believe, even in the South.

I'll add this as well. Kaine's opponent, Jerry Kilgore, ran for the most part on the death penalty (to which Kaine is opposed) and abortion (Kaine is mildly pro-choice). He lost. Since most Virginians like the death penalty and don't like abortion, this means that a significant chunk of Kaine's votes came from so-called social conservatives. This just goes to show that a plurality of voters care about much more than just social issues, and it's time the pundits recognized that.

I'll go out on this limb while I'm at it - Bush's social conservatism had nothing to do with his 2004 victory. Discuss.

Of course, when the ballot is a social issue, the demagogues will often have their way. So it is in Texas, where voters approved a constitutional amendment denying gays the right to marry. At least sanity still rules in Maine, where voters rejected an effort to repeal their new gay-rights law. Will somebody please tell me why allowing gays to claim the legal rights associated with marriage threatens anyone? MA voters discovered this for themselves: gays were allowed to marry, and heterosexual marriage didn't implode.

Attempts in California and Ohio to take the power of drawing congressional districts away from state legislatures both failed. We can all look forward to more geographically improbable districts and uncompetitive races from those two states. Ironically, Democrats supported the Ohio measure and opposed the California measure; Republicans supported the CA measure and didn't like the OH one. Guess who holds the congressional majority in each state. Personally, I supported both, so it's a disappointment for me. I think it's somewhat important in our democracy to have the capacity for high turnover in the House. We won't have that unless we make the redistricting process non-partisan, or at least bi-partisan.

Corzine wins in N.J., to absolutely nobody's surprise.

Non-election fun:

This is my hometown, y'all. I'm glad there are people with enough time on their hands to harrass illegal immigrants who are looking for work so they (and their families back home) can eat. You want to curtail illegal immigration? Tackle our broken immigration system that forces people to immigrate illegally. You want to engage in a self-aggrandizing stunt that accomplishes nothing but intimidating people looking to better their lives? Do what these people do.

Congress is investigating the CIA's secret prisons. Oh, wait, no. They're investigating who told the press about the CIA's secret prisons. Apparently the fact that the CIA is keeping secret prisons - a tactic usually reserved for the Saddam Husseins of the world - doesn't faze Republican Congressional leaders at all. Focus, people. Focus.

Of course, the non-secret military prisons appear quite porous. Anyone else think that this wouldn't have happened if they'd been in San Quentin instead of somewhere in Afghanistan? Would your average Californian give shelter to four people in orange prison jump suits? And they probably couldn't read English, so finding John Walker Lindh's house in the phone book is out of the question.

(Thanks to Leah for those three stories.)

I was watching The Daily Show yesterday. John McCain was the guest. Jon Stewart asked McCain if VP Cheney, who wants to maintain the government's right to torture, was insane. McCain had to think about it for a little while. I was amused.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fun With Surveillance

So far, this report from a left-leaning blog is unsubstantiated by a second source. If it's true, however, that the White House is using the Patriot Act and National Security Letters to gather information on people for no reason other than the fact that they're Bush's political enemies, then this administration truly has crossed the fine line between clueless and evil. I'll reserve judgment on this until I find another source - you're encouraged to help too.

This reminds me, however, of an excellent Post article about national security letters and their impact on the war on terror and our right to privacy. It's very balanced and well-written, but sadly, I can't get to the Post's site right now so I can't give you a link. Boo.

We Don't, Do We?

Bush is on the record this weekend as having said "we do not torture." Oh? If we don't, then why are we maintaining secret prisons in other countries? And why are we so opposed to the McCain Amendment outlawing "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment" of detainees?

Come to think of it, why is anyone against that amendment? Admittedly, I live in a somewhat liberal bubble, but I read Will and Krauthammer and Hoagland on the Post's site when I get the chance, and occasionally happen across a World Net Daily story or two. I haven't seen one argument against the McCain Amendment. Not one.

So I pose to you, my readers, this task. Find me a published column/piece/something opposing the McCain Amendment. You will earn my thanks, as well as a blog shout-out.

Also, if you're at a loss for where to find actual news, Leah's latest blogosphere contribution is a good place to go. She's pretty thorough.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Frank Lautenberg: Smart-ass

Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced an amendment that would rename the Republicans' cuts in Medicaid, Medicare, and other programs for the poor the "Moral Disaster of Monumental Proportions Reconciliation Act." Which, if it passes, gives Senate Republicans the opportunity to say that they passed a moral disaster of monumental proportions.

As long as we're using this naming convention, the Senate will probably be voting on the "Line The Pockets Of Our Campaign Donors Act" and the "Let The CIA Do Whatever The Hell It Wants To Whoever It Wants, Damn The Geneva Convention Act" fairly soon. And the "Protect Your Poor Congresspeople From Pesky Challengers Act" will almost certainly make it through state legislatures across the country.

The Post's Chris Cillizza writes about it here.

It Can't Happen There

If I have any Muslim readers, Eid Mubarak to you.

The CIA has been hiding and torturing detainees in secret prisons located in other countries. While this comes as a surprise to absolutely no one who knows the history of the CIA, Dana Priest's report on the issue makes our suspicions more concrete - and more chilling.

It is unthinkable that our country should be responsible for the "disappearance" of anybody, even of 100 undeniably evil creeps. This is immoral, un-American, and downright scary. It is the American way to give everyone a fair trial. Terrorists like Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols received that courtesy. Hell, even Goebbels and Goering got their day in court. Do people lose their right to a fair trial when their names become harder to pronounce?

I understand that the intelligence being extracted from these detainees is probably very valuable - or at least was. I don't know how much useful intel is being produced three years after their capture, but I'll give the intel people the benefit of the doubt on that one. Why, though, do we need to keep them in a secret location without at least the rights a prisoner of war deserves? Is there something inherently more productive about interrogating them in secret?

Congratulations to the 90 Senators (including my own Senators Burr and Dole) who voted for the McCain Amendment mandating humane treatment for all people in U.S. custody. As the Senate version stands, the regulation would apply to those in CIA custody as well. But the amendment is being threatened in conference committee by Cheney operatives who want to exempt the CIA from the regulations. I don't understand why Cheney wants to keep people in secret prisons and torture them - seems superfluous at best and counterproductive at worst.

In other news, Denver legalized the possession of an ounce of marijuana. It's a toothless law, since state and federal anti-possession laws still exist, but it'll be interesting to see how it plays out. Toke up, Broncos fans.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

It Can't Happen Here

Leah draws my attention to a really scary news item that occurred a little too close to home. As Leah points out, this is the kind of thing that happens when dictators are in power. No one should be harrassed for dissent ever, and certainly not 200 miles from my front door. I wonder what would happen if Wal-Mart found this blog, and I posted something like this:


The timer now starts on how long it takes the Secret Service to show up at my door. I'll keep you - heh - posted.

Senator Sheehan?

Laugh. Cry. Cringe. Cheer. Whatever. The Village Voice has been the first to mull over a possible Cindy Sheehan challenge to Senator Hillary Clinton. It's worth noting that Sheehan herself hasn't weighed in on the possibility of running, but if you think she wouldn't do it, you've got another thing coming. Her branch of the anti-war movement seems to have morphed into a Sheehan-based cult of personality, and it's hard to say that this isn't what she had in mind ever since leaving Camp Casey. She might have some trouble given some of the vehemently anti-Israel statements she made at Camp Casey (especially in New York), though she could probably write those off as the ravings of a grieving mother if she wanted to. (Thanks to Andy for the tip.)

Elsewhere, Mike writes about a story I was going to write about yesterday before my post got too long: the United Methodist Church's defrocking of a lesbian minister. I wonder what reason the UMC will come up with for her dismissal since lesbianism is not outlawed in the Bible (the verse states that "man shall not lie with man as man lies with woman" - not the other way around).

And chalk another one up to Lighthorse Harry, who pulled a massive parliamentary rabbit out of his hat in order to speed along the investigation into the use of faulty intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq war. (For those of you who don't know, Reid sent the Senate briefly into a closed session to protest the slow movement of the investigation.) And Bill Frist's whining about being slapped in the face rings hollow - after all, who is it that's been threatening to use parliamentary theatrics of his own in order to get a judge confirmed? Oh yeah, that's right. Shut up, Billy. Ben reports on this one.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Ramble On

Another "collection of random thoughts" post.

First, the world mourns Rosa Parks, who died last week. Those of us who grew up in the 1990s tend to forget how much black Americans had to pay for their freedom - and continue to have to pay for it. We will never have a true democracy until the voices of the poor and oppressed are heard alongside those of the rich and powerful. Acts of simple defiance like Parks' have built our democracy - acts of simple defiance will continue to build it. (Not the acts of self-aggrandizing defiance that characterize today's activists on both sides.)

Second, Samuel Alito has been nominated to the Court. I think he's a Scalia clone. In fact, I hear they're having trouble finding his birth certificate. They can only trace him back to a super-secret robotics lab built thirty years ago by Barry Goldwater and the Federalist Society. That probably won't affect his confirmation - Republican senators can easily paint Alito's opposition as anti-android.

Seriously, though, I'm surprised Bush picked someone who might force him to break his citizen detention habit. Alito seems to have a fairly thin record on terrorism cases - at least, the Post didn't report any as among his bigger decisions. He doesn't seem to have much use for discrimination/harrassment laws - one of his more interesting decisions is a case where he overruled a Pennsylvania school district's anti-harrassment policy on First Amendment grounds. (This is a really interesting opinion, and as both a gay-rights advocate and a First Amendment geek, I'm somewhat torn...)

Alito seems to have overruled state law a lot, which is a bit hypocritical since his famous dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey is based on the principle of deference to the legislature. Oh well, I guess consistency isn't what anyone would expect from a Scalia clone. At least he's pro-student media - he ruled against a state law forbidding a college paper from accepting an advertisement from an alcoholic beverage vendor.

Third: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadickheadijad apparently thinks Israel should be destroyed. My colleague Andy wryly noted that the only way he could have made those comments more offensive is by saying, "You know what? We should gas them while we're at it." The hell with crossing the line - he didn't even wave at the line on his way past. When the French accuse you of being anti-Semitic and when the U.N. rebukes you, you know you're pretty dumb. One Iranian satirist put it this way: "Now there’s Iran on one side and Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Oceania against us on the other." But there's a silver lining for the Iranian idiotocracy: Antarctica hasn't gotten into the mix yet.

Fourth: Scooter Libby has been indicted. We can all sleep soundly tonight.

Fifth: 36-0?!?!?!?! What happened? Did some high school team sneak in, put on 'Skins uniforms, and play? Actually, probably not - a high school team would have at least scored some points. Also, Rutgers is bowl eligible - which means that unless Vandy takes out two of its last three opponents (and Tennessee looks beatable, so that is possible), we'll lay claim to the longest bowl drought in Div. I-A. Whee.

Sixth: More stupidity from Hugo Chavez. Seriously, dude. Halloween is not an American government plot. You're starting to sound like Joseph McCarthy. All you need is a lot of alcohol. Also, Iran expands its "destroy Israel" policy to include mannequins.

Seventh: check out this guy who tried to charge women to date him so he could raise money for a political campaign.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I Can't Go To Turkey

Your "Dumb Law of the Day" comes from Turkey, which apparently outlaws the use of the letters W and Q (those letters are not in the Turkish alphabet). So if I were to go to Turkey, I would have to write my name as Jeff Oodhead. And my passport would be confiscated. Wow. Or, rather, o.

Runner-up: a Houston law outlawing sex toys. My favorite line from this article: "Police take into account just how much an item resembles an actual penis when making an arrest." So I guess you can't be arrested for possession of a cucumber. (Incidentally, laws like this have really got to mess with the heads of New Orleans evacuees, who are used to, well, Mardi Gras.)

And: can we now all admit that Brad Lidge is actually Byun-Hyung Kim in disguise?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Jeff's Computer (2002-2005)

My home computer died about a week ago, so I don't have the power to blog at home anymore. I'm writing this from work, so it won't be particularly in-depth. It will be a series of mini-rants. Here goes:

George Will writes an interesting article about how GM is dealing with mounting health care costs to its retirees, and how those health care costs affect their ability to come out with new products. What Will fails to realize, I guess, is that he just made an excellent argument for single-payer health care systems. If corporate benefits packages are weighing down companies, it would ironically enough be pro-business to expand government in this area. If Washington (or Lansing, or Raleigh) is paying for it, the board room won't have to - and that will free up funds for the innovation that drives a successful market system. Furthermore, the cost of providing health benefits will no longer have to be borne by small business owners, which allows them to put more money back into their business (and maybe pay their employees better).

The hitch is in the ridiculous costs of health care. A single-payer system would occupy a good tenth of our budget all by itself - but since I don't trust the market as far as I can throw it when it comes to providing health care, we're left with either companies or governments paying the bills. If we accept Will's argument, government is our only solution, however costly it may be.

Another Post article chronicles the short life span of an eighth-grade reading assignment where students were asked to choose one book from a list of a hundred banned/challenged books, read it, and analyze why it was controversial. Predictably, some idiot parents decided that because they didn't want their kids reading some of the books on the list (reasonable, given that Madonna's "Sex" was on the list, among others), they didn't want anyone else's kids reading any of the books on the list. The school, being spineless, withdrew the assignment. Raising your own kid seems hard enough; someone please tell me why there are parents out there who want to be everyone else's mommy and daddy too.

Also on the education front, students have shown no appreciable gains from the No Child Left Behind act yet. I don't know that we can gauge the success of an education program a mere four years into its existence, but NCLB certainly isn't the magic bullet that the Bush administration was wanting it to be. Looks like Curious George will actually have to put a little more effort into solving our education problems.

And finally, well met, Astros. Why you didn't walk Albert Pujols in the ninth inning of Game 5, I'll never know. But I guess it didn't matter.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What Bush Is Really Up To

A lot of people are asking: why Miers? Why would Bush ignore the legions of conservative legal minds that have been elevated to appellate courts throughout the past decades? Why would Bush nominate someone from his inner circle when he's already facing charges of rampant cronyism? Bush seems to have made no one happy with his pick - is he stupid?

No. Miers was Bush's best pick. And here's why.

I think Bush could care less about "strict constructionism" or abortion or gay marriage or all that other crapola that the media throw about during nomination time. He's really trying to curtail the Supreme Court's interference with his war on terror, and doing a pretty good job of it.

Remember Hamdi v. Rumsfeld? In that case, the Court ruled that Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American citizen, had the right to challenge his "enemy combatant" status in court. The decision was 8-1, with only Clarence Thomas stating that the exigencies of the war on terror supersede Hamdi's habeas plea. Certainly no Bush nominations are going to change that balance at all.

But look at the case closer. Four justices went further in their opinions, saying that not only could Hamdi challenge his status in court, but that the government was wrong in holding Hamdi as an enemy combatant. The four justices were Souter, Ginsburg, Stevens, and - here's the kicker - Scalia.

Scalia's argument was that the only way the executive could have the right to detain a citizen as an enemy combatant was through an invocation of the Constitution's Suspension Clause. That requires an act of Congress, and Congresspeople aren't about to face re-election with the suspension of everyone's habeas rights on their records.

Scalia was in the minority - barely. Had another case come up challenging the right of the Executive to hold citizens as enemy combatants, it would have been decided 5-4 in Bush's favor. Both Rehnquist and O'Connor, the two justices being replaced, were part of the five.

Therefore, the last thing Bush wanted at this point was another Scalia. Another Scalia would seriously limit his ability to detain citizens that might be al-Qaeda members indefinitely. But neither Roberts nor Miers is "another Scalia." Roberts has ruled in favor of the Administration in a war-on-terror case that came before the D.C. Circuit. Miers is the current White House Counsel. Both are reliably on the side of deference to the executive when it comes to terrorism cases. Bush didn't want to take any chances - one false step, and his entire power grab comes a-crumbling down.

The only pick that would have made as much sense as Miers was Alberto Gonzales. But Gonzales made the mistake of making his moderate views on social issues public, so he would draw even more flack from the conservatives than Miers is getting. And Gonzales is a lightning rod for issues of executive power. He drew a lot of opposition during his confirmation as Attorney General, and that would only be amplified by the intense pressures of a Court confirmation battle.

Bush's political calculus is this: neither Miers nor Gonzales would make conservatives happy. So nominate Miers and get the support of liberals and Democrats who'll see Miers' moderation on social issues and who'll think they wouldn't get much better than that from Bush. He'll lose the Dems' support if the Miers debate becomes about executive power, but he knows the media and interest groups will focus on her views on abortion and church-state separation just like they do for every judicial nominee. Now he'll need to pull off just enough Republican votes to win confirmation in the Senate - it should only take five, and Bush could probably get fifteen in his sleep. Thus, the detentions are safe.

Sure, Bush's picks look confusing if we think they're about social policy issues. But Bush's entire presidency has been about the war on terror since September 11, 2001. It's what he ran on in 2004, and it's what keep his approval ratings above 40. Somehow, people seem to forget that when they start looking at the Supreme Court. If we look at the nominations of Roberts and Miers through that lens, it all becomes crystal clear.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Nope, Never Heard Of Her Either

Bush just nominated White House Counsel Harriet Miers to fill Sandra Day O'Connor's spot on the Supreme Court. The collective punditry releases a great big "huh?"

Miers has never served as a judge. (Neither had Rehnquist, nor had Earl Warren. Chief Justice Roberts - that's gonna take some getting used to - has only two years.) She has, however, had extensive experience as a lawyer, so maybe she'll know what she's doing up there. At least as much as anyone else, anyway.

Bush has managed to do the previously unthinkable with this one, though - win the praise of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid ("I like Harriet Miers") and the condemnation of the conservative National Review ("The Miers nomination is an unforced error"). Which probably means he made as good a pick as he can make - at a time when his approval ratings are dropping, the last thing he needs to do is initiate a bruisingly partisan confirmation battle that will push the moderates even further from his camp.

Though it is kind of funny that he's following a suggestion of massive spending on hurricane relief with a judicial nomination that drew Reid's praise. Impersonating a Moderate, on the offense, five yards, repeat third down.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

If You Believe...

Shit. Even in our good years, we can't beat MTSU. What the hell?

And then Arizona State forgot the existence of this clever little thing called "run defense." So all in all, it was a pretty shitty day for college football. At least Virginia Tech won.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Clever Form of Population Control

The Washington Post reports that the Streamlined Procedures Act, which would make it easier for states to execute people regardless of their actual guilt by trimming their right to federal appeals, is coming before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Benhas blogged on the Streamlined Procedures Act previously, and I don't have much to add to his comments and the Post's comments.

Republicans in Congress seem to have no concern for the rights of the falsely accused and unfairly tried, and it's flying far enough under the radar where it won't create popular outrage if passed. But I think there's another motive behind Republicans' support for this bill: population control. Hey, what better way to do our part to fight overcrowding than by arresting people who may or may not have committed a crime and killing them?

I'm going to write to my Senators (Burr won't listen, but Libby might), and y'all should too.

Quick notes:

DeLay - Somewhere, Dan Rostenkowski is laughing his ass off.

Rita - Where have we seen this before? So much for learning lessons from Katrina.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Screw This

Just when you thought nothing dumber could possibly emanate from the Administration, Alberto Gonzales has directed the FBI to start a Porn Task Force. And they need your help - since the agents themselves seem reluctant to join. I wonder why.

Apparently, this is part of the Bush Administration's War on Porn. War on Porn? Kinda cheapens the rhetoric a bit, don't you think? You declare war on terrorism, on poverty - you know, serious problems. You don't declare "war" on something that mildly annoys you. What'll be the next "war"? The War on Plastic Lawn Flamingoes?

Of course, pornography featuring consenting adults is one of the great threats to America. In fact, it's just like terrorism, except instead of people dying, people have unauthorized orgasms. We can't have that. If you're not with us, you're with the pornographers, right?

Las _____es

Some people sued a town to remove the Christian cross from their town seal. Which would be a legitimate lawsuit if they were anywhere but Las Cruces ("The Crosses"), New Mexico. I guess the defendants really don't get the whole Spanish thing. What should their seal be, then? Addition signs? A big "X"? Or should they try to get the probably 300-year-old town renamed?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Set Love Free?

Before discussing the actual topic of today's post, I'd like to give today's First Amendment Award to Cindy Sheehan and the other 370 demonstrators who were arrested in front of the White House for the bullshit crime of demonstrating without a permit. Why should anyone have to ask the government to protest against the government? And the anti-First Amendment Award goes to Gene Feldman of the NC State ACLU (who I have had a class with), who wrote a letter to the Technician (link unavailable) criticizing the NCSU College Republicans for violating their demonstration permit while protesting against Sheehan's NCSU appearance. Dude... you're supposed to be protecting civil liberties, not applauding efforts to limit them.

Anyway, I just returned from visiting Danielle in Phoenix. I flew Southwest, since they have about the only affordable nonstop flight from RDU to Phoenix. While I was waiting for my flight out, I sat in the airport under a sign proudly proclaiming "Set Love Free." At first I thought it was a cheesy marketing campaign by Southwest, whose logo is a heart. It took me twenty minutes and a map to finally figure out what the sign meant - it is a reference to an obscure law called the Wright Amendment, and is the slogan for Southwest's campaign to get the law repealed.

Probably only policy geeks and North Texans are familiar with the Wright Amendment. It was passed in 1979 and limits flights out of Dallas' Love Field airport to neighboring states (thus the slogan). It has since been expanded to include Kansas, Alabama, and Mississippi. Furthermore, if you live outside one of these states, you cannot book a connecting flight into Love Field. The effect of the law is to channel most out-of-state flights into Dallas through the behemoth Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

The law was first passed to "protect" DFW, which was then a relatively new airport. Why DFW needed protection is anyone's guess - Love is a fairly small (32 gate) airport that could never hope to handle the amount of traffic that goes into and out of DFW every day. And certainly traffic generated by the roughly 5 million people in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex can fill up two airports - similarly-sized Houston supports two quite well. Indeed, most Wright supporters focus on the idea that repealing Wright would hurt DFW, but it seems that any decrease in DFW activity would be offset by the increase in business done at Love. Another argument in favor of Wright is the increased noise that would affect residents near the airport - but you've got to be fairly dim to live near an airport and not expect noise.

Indeed, the Wright Amendment seemed aimed at protecting American at the expense of Love-based Southwest from the start. American's lobbying power is likely the only reason why the law still exists - the congressman standing in the way of hearings on the issue, Joe Barton (R-TX), received campaign cash from American.

It's interesting that Republicans - supposed champions of the free market - would be on the side of the Wright Amendment. The law is obviously anti-competitive, and I can think of absolutely no reason why Wright is beneficial to anyone except American Airlines. Keeping this law in place amounts to a pointless corporate giveaway.

What's remarkable is that Southwest took so long to mount an organized public opposition to Wright. You would think that a transportation company whose home base is so severely restricted would be up in arms about the restrictions from the very beginning. But while Wright prevented them from launching a full-scale operation out of Dallas, it never really got in the way of Southwest's national success. Wright is a dumb law, but it makes a point: anti-competitive legislation alone does not prevent the most clever companies from succeeding.

Visit Southwest's campaign here.

And visit DFW Airport's campaign to keep Wright here.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Following Rita

Looks like another major hurricane is bearing down on the Gulf Coast. Rita (a tropical storm now but expected to strengthen once it reaches the Gulf) looks to miss the areas affected by Katrina for the most part. Right now it's aimed at Houston. Which is really obnoxious irony for all the New Orleans evacuees now making their temporary home in the Astrodome.

Speaking of hurricanes, Katrina has turned Bush into something very odd - a tax-and-spend liberal. (Actually, just a "spend" liberal. He still doesn't seem to grasp the idea that taxes generate the revenue needed for the requisite spending.) Not that I'm complaining. It's just amusing to listen to the overwhelming silence from the small-government crowd when it comes to relief spending. I guess economic libertarianism has its limits.

But we have to pay for the hurricane somehow, and Bush seems content just to take us further into debt. Sadly, the most obvious solution - the repeal of tax cuts to the super-rich - doesn't look like it's in the cards. Nor does the other obvious solution - trimming down spending on our Iraq expedition and thus the scope of the occupation. To wit, an intelligent idea has come from the Heritage Foundation, which usually just spews the tax-cuts-to-the-rich-and-cut-programs-for-the-poor gospel. They suggest eliminating all the pork from the recent highway bill, which will produce some $12 billion. They have a point - I think that bridge to Nowheresville, Alaska can wait.

Of course, come Saturday when Rita hits, we're likely to have another big cleanup on our hands. Here's hoping the feds don't screw this one up as bad as the last one. Really, we'd best start preparing now - get the Red Cross ready in San Antonio or Austin, stockpile food within a day's drive of the Texas coast, prepare the National Guard, etc.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Police Brutality

Some looters deserved to be arrested. This one didn't. Hell, the deli's owner doesn't even want her charged with anything.

And why would bail for "theft" of $63 worth of essential goods - like food - for survival during a natural disaster be set at $50,000? Is a 73-year-old woman a flight risk?

When I'm told that Louisiana has a Napoleonic legal system, I didn't think that the 19-years-for-a-loaf-of-bread thing followed with it. Next thing you know, the Kenner police chief is going to be changing his name to Javert. Barricades to follow soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Free-Floating Hostility, Vol. 2

More random comments on the state of the world:

The Bush administration, for whatever reason, is refusing to let 1500+ Cuban doctors into the Gulf Coast to help Katrina victims. Apparently Honduran immigrant communities were hit hard, so there's a need for Spanish-speaking doctors in the area. I can't imagine that the Red Cross wouldn't want 1500 extra doctors helping them out. Somebody please point out the sense in putting diplomatic bitterness in front of humanitarian need, because I don't see it.

Speaking of which, British columnist Julian Baggini describes why many Britons aren't sending aid to the victims of the storm: "We don’t want to plug the gaping hole created by inegalitarian American social policy because we want to expose it for what it is, and shatter the US’s self-image as the most fair and free country in the world." So let me get this straight. You're going to teach the U.S. a lesson about how it treats its poor people by refusing to help its poor people. Yeah, that's a brilliant idea.

Both the above pieces are from the Post's World Opinion Roundup.

Stephen Pearlstein writes on the little-noticed news that poverty is increasing in America, and not just thanks to Katrina. Indeed, the only section of America that has seen any "recovery" in our supposed economic recovery is the upper class. You know, the ones getting the tax cuts. Seems like our policymakers have failed to notice that when it comes to the poor, the Invisible Hand of the market is off somewhere picking an Invisible Nose. And the poor get hit by the Invisible Boogers.

Signs that there are more important things on demagogues' minds: the Massachusetts state legislature rejected a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage by the ever-so-close count of 157-39. Last year, during the height of the political furor over the issue, Massachusetts legislators voted for the ban 105-92. However, in Massachusetts, a constitutional amendment must be approved in two straight legislative sessions and be passed by a public referendum in order to become official. One Republican legislator explained why he switched his vote: "Gay marriage has begun, and life has not changed for the citizens of the commonwealth, with the exception of those who can now marry." I hear the Society for the Ridiculously Obvious has decided to award him its highest honor. Read the Post article here.

And finally, in the "here we go again" department, a California court ruled that the mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools is unconstitutional. The suit is being brought by the same guy, but this time he found people who actually have standing to sue with him. This means that the Supreme Court (should the suit get there) can't duck the issue this time. Of course, this case will invariably produce exactly what the world needs: a bunch of paranoid religious conservatives complaining about our collective moral perdition while a bunch of paranoid atheists/agnostics warn us of an impending theocracy. Chance of this issue being handled with anything resembling reasonability: zero.

Shocked! Shocked!

A Florida mother was apparently dismayed to learn that her eleventh grade daughter was assigned a book containing an oral sex scene. Idiotically but not surprisingly, she is not content to opt her student out of the book. Instead, she wants it banned.

She calls the book pornography - apparently failing to realize that this is a book about 1940s India containing oral sex, not a book about oral sex containing 1940s India. Hell, I was assigned a book containing a sex scene in ninth grade, and a play with truck loads of sexual innuendo in tenth grade (Aristophanes' Lysistrata).

Guess what? Your daughter is (presumably) 16. She almost certainly knows what oral sex is. You're not protecting her from anything. That having been said, it is her right as a parent to limit what her daughter should and shouldn't read. However, she's not all the other students' mommy, and she does not need to be given that authority. Nor does the school board.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Worst... Idea... Ever

In the Things No One Noticed That Could Result In Armageddon department, the Washington Post reports that the Pentagon is set to endorse the preemptive use of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, they would recommend that the President have full authority to use this power whenever he damn well pleases. And Congress hasn't heard about it until now - Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John Warner (R-VA) hasn't received a copy yet.

Has anyone seen Dr. Strangelove? Yeah, it's kinda like that.

To be fair, we haven't used nuclear weapons since 1945 - a time period which has seen undeclared and unconstitutional wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq (twice). Back then traditional weapons were often just as destructive as nuclear ones - for example, Tokyo was more severely damaged by a single firebombing run than Hiroshima was by the nuclear bomb. However, nuclear bombs have grown up significantly since 1945 - today's bombs carry at least 100 times the destructive power of Little Boy.

But it's scary to think that Bush could just nuke Tehran tomorrow. Given the state of our ability to tell when someone is about to attack us or not, this policy could mean that we'll end up nuking somebody somewhere for absolutely no reason. "Preemption" is always dangerous, and it just got more so.

And nuclear weapons aren't specific. Lots of people die when a nuke is set off, even one of the small "bunker-buster" ones that were in planning until Congress wisely pulled the plug. The potential for so-called "collateral damage" - by which I mean the death of innocent civilians - is far greater. A scorched-earth policy of warfare is not useful in a delicate fight such as the war on terror, nor should it be a tool for diplomacy. We ought to have more concern for those whose hearts and minds we claim to be pursuing and less for the well being of our nuclear arsenal.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

What Was Today, Again?

I was cruising away messages today when I noticed that Zhubin had posted the following (yes, I still away-message stalk Zhubin)...

"There's something important about today...but I can't quite remember it...

Oh, right! Season premiere of Simpsons and Family Guy!"

The most obvious sign that terror has failed is the fact that today's anniversary has gotten scant if any notice from anyone.

All catastrophes fade into memory. It's tough to notice Andrew's mark on South Florida anymore. New York is back to obsessing over how to beat the Red Sox. With time, New Orleans will be back to playing jazz and eating red beans and rice. When we help each other get by, Americans can be a pretty resilient bunch.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Rules of Mankind

From today's Chicago Sun-Times:

"But if high gas prices don't faze you and you're in the market for a car, maybe you'd enjoy the Fine Motor Auction and Luxury Lifestyle Expo in New York this weekend.

A three-day ticket will run you $100, but you can bid on the Batmobile Michael Keaton drove in the movie (estimated at $500,000), or a 1969 Dodge Charger (only $50,000) that was used in promotions by the "Dukes of Hazzard" TV stars.

The auction organizers think a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda might bring $5 million, but if that's too rich for your blood, there will be booths selling cigars, fine wine, Swiss watches and other items living up to the "luxury lifestyle" part of the thing's name.

Keith Martin, publisher of Sports Car Market magazine, described the idea behind the event to Bloomberg News: 'Put sparkly things in front of people who can afford to buy them without thinking twice.'"

Mr. Martin, I think "put sparkly things in front of people who can afford to buy them without thinking twice" describes at least half of all consumption among the upper and middle classes. You should have a law of economics named after you. Perhaps I should construct a plot of sparkliness vs. demand, give it a snazzy name, throw in a few formulas with integrals, and publish it in an economics journal. It's a Nobel Prize winner for sure.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

More Hurricane-Related Incompetence

The Salt Lake Tribune brings our attention to another reason why FEMA management should be slapped silly. I have this macabre, Catch-22-style scene in my head right now - a firefighter comes across a family that needs to be rescued, hands them a flier with FEMA's number on them, says something like "if you need anything, that's the number to call, I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to do more," and leaves.

I draw your attention also to this line from the end of the article:

"But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas."

Now I doubt Bush himself is going to be going on any rescue missions in southern Mississippi or Louisiana. So there are fifty less people out there looking for people who need rescuing so President Bush can make himself look good.

What a clusterfuck.

Thanks to Zhubin for the link.

Monday, September 05, 2005

I Get A Kick Out Of You

Congratulations to goalkeeper/beast Kasey Keller and the U.S. men's soccer team, who qualified for the World Cup by beating Jared Borgetti and fifth-in-the-world Mexico 2-0 in Columbus, Ohio. (The Americans are ranked 6th.)

What excites me is that US-Mexico has the potential to turn into a great soccer rivalry along the lines of England-France and Brazil-Argentina. Since both teams are ranked so highly, a rivalry that gets both sides determined can help both the US and Mexico make the next step to the rarified heights of the soccer elite. Not to mention it would increase interest in soccer here in the States.

Already the words are flying. Mexico's coach Ricardo Lavolpe said that the Americans "play like my sister, my aunt and my grandmother." So Ricky, how does it feel to lose to your sister, aunt, and grandmother? And US forward Landon Donovan said, when asked about Mexico's team, "they suck." Yeah, because you get to #5 in the world by sucking.

Goodbye, Bill

The coverage of Hurricane Katrina has rightly garnered the lion's share of the headlines this weekend, and in the mass of death and destruction left by the storm, it's tough to justify eulogizing just one person whose death had nothing to do with the hurricane.

But I feel the need to say something about Justice William Rehnquist, who died late Saturday night at the age of 80. He spent 33 years on the Supreme Court, the last 19 of them as Chief Justice. I agreed with almost none of his opinions, but I had more respect for him than I did for Scalia and Thomas. With Rehnquist, it's tough to say that he was pushing some sort of ideology like the other anchors of the Court's right wing - he was deciding cases the way he thought they should be decided, and that was that. Sure, his political conservatism made his decisions inconsistent, but show me a judge whose politics doesn't affect his/her decisions and I'll show you a robot.

Of course, now we have to deal with the acrimony of not one but two confirmation hearings. Glorious. Roberts will probably take over as C.J., at least if Bush has his way. Looking at Roberts as Rehnquist's replacement will likely make his confirmation easier since he'll be a conservative replacing a conservative. The next person nominated - who will doubtlessly be as far right as Roberts and Rehnquist - is going to have a tough road, though, especially with Bush's failing approval ratings and the return of Arlen Specter's maverick ways.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Your Daily Amusement

This guy rules. On this site, you will find not only a third theory of how the earth came to be, but also proof positive that a lack of pirates causes global warming.